Race Report: 15K Colon Cancer Challenge

So after all that blogging about how I was going to run 18 miles today and maybe I would run the course twice… I felt like crap and it took all my energy not to give up in the first mile. Now, part of that may be because of my intense workouts yesterday. After seeing on Friday how much weight I had gained in the last two weeks, I decided this weekend was going to be a non-drinking exercise-a-thon, Biggest Loser style. On Biggest Loser, the contestants work out for 4-6 hours a day… craziness. I knew it would be a dumb idea to jump right into running 4 hours, but I figured if I broke up my day into different exercise activities but just kept going for a while, I could safely get a big calorie burn this weekend. So yesterday:

  • Ran around Riverside Park for 2.8 miles (22.5 minutes)
  • Marched in place while catching up on my shameful reality TV addiction (63.5 minutes)
  • Elliptical in two separate sessions for 5.85 miles while reading this cool new book, Cooked (62 minutes) (when I went to find the link for Cooked, I noticed that Amazon has it on ridiculous clearance… I got mine from the library, but it’s definitely worth a read if you have a spare $6.99).
  • Rowing machine (20 minutes)
  • Free weights (24 minutes)

I think all of that may have made me a wee bit tired. Well, that and… who the heck schedules a race the morning after we lose an hour due to Daylight Savings Time? I couldn’t get to sleep until 1 AM even though I was trying hard to go to bed early.

So anyway, I woke up feeling just as tired as I felt before the Bronx half. (I was yawning in people’s faces at the starting line, which is never a good sign.) For breakfast, I knew I needed lots of carbs, so I opted for Trader Joe’s Apples and Cinnamon oatmeal (I love oatmeal before a race, and the Apple and Cinnamon has quickly become my new favorite flavor) along with a piece of Trader Joe’s Apple Tarte Tatin (yeah, so tarts aren’t really your typical healthy breakfast, but this one is actually only 120 cals for 1/4 of the pie… so it’s pretty doable). Unfortunately, I just did not feel adequately fueled and awake while running. I burned so many calories yesterday that I probably should have eaten a huge breakfast today to fuel up for the race.

At the starting line, it was cold. And windy too. I had done my packet pickup right at the cutoff time of 9:45, and then rushed to get my t-shirt, check my bag, and head to the starting line, because I thought start time was 10:00, but it was actually 10:15, so I had a good 20 minutes to literally cool my heels and listen to the “inspirational” messages from the sponsors. I use inspirational in quotes because the guy next to me and I were laughing when the announcer would say “here comes an inspirational message from our sponsor” and the sponsor would literally just say “hi, I’m so-and-so from such-and-such sponsor. Good luck today!” and pass the mic back. However, the runner who talked about her mom dying from colon cancer was inspirational (though she didn’t get tagged as such… I guess it’s better if you don’t set the expectation). All the talk about colons ironically made my colon want to get some use, but unfortunately I have never been able to do that in a portapotty, so I held off. Luckily, once I was running it was fine.

When the horn went off, I got excited as I inched closer to the start. Then I started running, and oh boy… within the first mile I was already wishing I had stayed home like my manager IMed me this morning to tell me he was going to do (his excuse was that it was windy, he was tired from traveling, and that his son wanted him to stay and play with him. Two of those three also applied to me, so I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have kids to complete the excuse list). In the early part of the race, I contemplated dropping out and getting the dreaded DNF, but didn’t want to sully my good name. Last night we had a crazy wind storm that left a ton of sticks and other debris everywhere, and I even contemplated “tripping” and “hurting myself” so that I would be “forced” to take a DNF with “no shame”… but decided that I was better than that. But that just goes to show you what a bad attitude I had for this race in terms of my desire to be there.

I commenced hating every step I took, and inventing nasty games to get myself to pick up the pace. (If you want to continue thinking of me as a nice person, skip to ahead to two paragraphs after the list). Here is an example of my favorite game, which I call “Hell, No… You Should Not Be In Front Of Me.” Basically, it involves picking out someone ahead of me, thinking the title of the game, and passing them. The nastiness comes in when you look at the demographics of the people that I targeted with the “should not be in front of me” description:

  • People who were three times my age
  • People who were half my age
  • People wearing outfits I deemed “not something a real runner would wear” (things like pearl earrings and low-cut tank tops with no bra would fall into this category)
  • People wearing outfits I deemed “not as cute as mine” (admittedly, my outfit today was not that cute, but there were some neon monstrosities out there)
  • People who had the energy to chat with a buddy while running
  • People who were walking (how are you ahead of me?!)
  • People wearing t-shirts advertising a 1M, 5K, or other short race (though one guy had a Maui 5K shirt on which I thought was pretty awesome, and I did not include him in my game)
  • This girl who looked like the current girlfriend of one of my exes (we stayed friends after dating until said girlfriend didn’t like it and forbid him from speaking to me). It wasn’t actually her, but I still don’t feel remorse for targeting her lookalike.

I am looking forward to NYRR’s implementation of the new corralled starts, where runners will receive color-coded bibs according to where they should line up based on predicted finish time. You might think I’m looking forward to this because the start will be less congested, but I actually didn’t have a huge problem with congestion in this race – I was free and clear within the first 1/4 mile. No, I am looking forward to this so I can add “people whose color-coded bib indicates they should finish after me” to my list. Hey, sometimes when you’re in a bad mood you gotta do what you gotta do to keep moving.

I found the hills on the west side to be pretty brutal, which just goes to show you that you really shouldn’t train by running short sprints on a treadmill at 0 incline. I really need to work on my inclines or I will be screwed in a month when I do the Cooper River Bridge Run, which goes up at a 4% grade. In the past, I’ve barely noticed inclines (up or down): I just keep running the same pace, and so I end up passing people on the way up and getting passed on the way down. Today, I was getting passed by people on the way up, getting passed by people on the way down, and getting passed by people on the straightaways. Pretty disheartening. I think my problem is I’ve been letting the intense cardio slide, focusing more on weights and then going for quantity (distance) over quality (speed/incline) on the treadmill. This week I am determined to do a minimum of 30 minutes/day of sweaty, heart pounding cardio.

On the east side, I finally saw why they call it Cat Hill: near the top, there is a rock that has a statue of a cat (like, tiger/jaguar/dangerous kind of cat; not like a housecat) sitting on the top of it. Had never noticed that before. I really didn’t find Cat Hill to be as bad as the hills on the west side though, maybe because they came at a good point in the race (about 3/4 of the way done, where I realized I could actually finish).

My time was pretty miserable, but I was happy that I at least beat my previous (and only) 15K, which was the Boilermaker in Utica last summer. Shaved 5 minutes off that time! I plan to do the Boilermaker again this year because it was such a fantastic experience, so hopefully I can drop another 5 minutes by resting up, fueling up, and also getting myself into better shape.

My music:
I used my Bronx Half-Marathon playlist, which I actually didn’t get to run to in the Bronx half because I hadn’t synched my iPod properly after creating the playlist. Oops! It wasn’t that great though… still on the quest for the perfect music to motivate me. One of my power songs came on early in the race (Rascal Flatts – Stand), and it did get me all jazzed up and a little teary and emotional… but it was at mile 1, so that wasn’t the best timing.

Next race:
I’m thinking about doing a 5K next weekend in Boston for St. Patty’s Day? That way I can participate in Vanilla’s “Shave Your 5K” challenge. Seeing how crappy I’ve been running lately, it makes me think I can definitely produce a slow time without even trying, and then post a big improvement at the end of the year.

Race stats:
Distance: 9.3 miles
Time: 1:25:42
Pace/mile: 9:12
Overall place: 2034/3280
Age group place: 296/586

Other Colon Cancer Challenge race reports:
Vienna63 at Michael’s Swim-Bike-Run Adventures
Morrissey at Mozzer Confessionals
Michael at Timed Run
RunnerNYC at My Trips and Races
Julie at Runs Like a Girl
Doug at Elevene
Andy’s friend “The Salesman” at Running Down a Dream


  1. I ran the 4M today, and only just figured out that Cat Hill is called that because of the statue. Never mind that I’ve been racing in Central Park for years, I think the blood was elsewhere than my brain!
    Awesome job finishing the 15K, I so would have gone home.

  2. You did darn good considering what you were up against! Congrats and welcome back to racing season!

  3. That is not a bad time at all!!! Esp considering the weather. I had a horrible 10 mile run today as well. I think it’s because I was tired from my 5k friday and 6 miles sat.

  4. Tough day out there, huh? Def. not long distance weather!! Good job hanging in there though!!

    And oh yeah-I usually take it easy the day before a race for best performance…

  5. Three words: You Didn’t Quit. That is what really matters. Over the years, I’ve learned that two days rest – regardless of my week’s activity – makes for the best race times, for me. You’ll find your own way and now learned about Fridays.

    Just Keep Going!

  6. Aren’t you supposed to rest the day before a race?? And you still PR’d? Holy moly.

  7. Yeah, Nancy’s right! All that cardio/training the day before – then you ran a 15K. Crazy! Your time was great (to me), but I know how you feel when you don’t do or feel the way you think you should. I think you did terrific!!!

    In my 10k last weekend, I saw something I had to jump over, that had I hit it I would have fallen. I actually (for a sec) thought about doing it so I could fall and not finish. So, I hear ya!

    When you mentioned the color-coded bibs, the first thing I thought was exactly what you wrote… see who you could pass that shouldn’t have put that time down. Thanks to you, I’ve got things to think of like that on my next race!

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